The playoffs might be out of the picture but the players have said that they will be playing to win and to put more of their action on tape. For Joe Philbin, he says that he will continue to coach the same way and will not bend the game plan just to help players achieve personal benchmarks.
One example of a player close to a milestone is Lamar Miller, who is 171 yards away from 1,000 rushing yards on the season. However, Philbin said that this is a team game and he’s not worried about anything else.
“This is a team. Winning games as a team is the most important thing. Those are byproducts of winning football teams,” he said. “I want to beat the Minnesota Vikings. That’s all I really care about right now. In fact, I told the team today that we have to do whatever we have to do to beat the Vikings. If that means the running backs, if we have to throw the ball 60 times and you have to pick up the blitzing linebacker 58 times, that’s what you have to do. To me, (using stats as a motivator) doesn’t matter.”
With that said, Philbin said that he can understand why a player’s individual goal might motivate them toward a winning effort against the Vikings.
“It’s all a byproduct. The goal, when you walk into the building here, you are part of a team, every single person, the coach, the players, the equipment guys, the trainers, the public relations people. We want people to feel like they can contribute and make plays. We need to make some plays to win this game, absolutely, but that’s not the starting point. The starting point is the team winning football games. Whatever happens at the end of the day on the stat sheet happens, but that’s not where the focus needs to be. The focus needs to be ‘How can I contribute?’ (from) every person that walks through the doors from the parking lot to help the Miami Dolphins reach their potential. After that, whatever happens I’m delighted for players to have success. I think it’s great, but that’s not the starting point.”
In a way, Cameron Wake agreed saying that football is a team game and if you end up not making the playoffs, nothing else matters, including any individual achievement that may have been accomplished during the season.
“Football is very interesting. There is no C+ in football. It’s either pass or fail, and I feel like whether you get a job done or not, consolation is hard to be accepted. It’s like patting the back, ‘Hey good job, but you didn’t get the job done.’ Since the day we got here, going to the playoffs felt like the first step in making this franchise back in the winning ways it should be. The record, at the end of the day, to me, is kind of immaterial. We still want to have the opportunity to get the big prize.”
As others have said this week, Mike Pouncey noted that this is a time to put their play on tape for everyone else to see so it's in everyone's best interest to play well, regardless of individual benchmarks and team record.
“Well, what you put on tape is who you are. For a lot of guys, if you go out there and don’t perform well in these last games, then you’re setting yourself up for failure the next season, especially going into it the way the coaches look at you. If you’re a free agent guy, then it’s not going to look good on you at all. I think, for the most part, guys are going to go out there and play as hard as they can. I know, for me, I can’t wait until Sunday gets here.”
It will be very interesting to see how the Dolphins players come out and respond on Sunday. We’ll find out a lot about what they think of Joe Philbin based on the type of effort they put forward. The answer will be coming in just a few short days.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs